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Exeter Maxims, The Order of the World, and the Exeter book of Old English poetry.

THE LAST SECTION OF THE TRIPARTITE GNOMIC CATALOG known as Exeter Maxims or Maxims I, begins with a precis of one of its most frequently-studied themes, namely the poem's relationship to oral and textual traditions: (1)
   Raed sceal mon seegan, rune writan,
   leop gesingan, leofes gearnian,
   dom areccan, daeges onettan. (138-40)

[One should speak counsel, write secrets, and sing poems; a dear friend must be earned, good repute should be proclaimed, and one should make use of the day.] (2)

While the distinction between orality and textuality does little to clarify the rune, 'secrets' of Exeter Maxims's inscribed form on fols. 88v-92v of the Exeter Book, the poet's balanced phrasing and head-rhyme formally indicate that the singing of poetry (leop gesingan) brought together people in friendship (leofes gearnian), a unifying theme repeated in Exeter Maxims's three scribal sections. (3) Section B asserts "god scop [gerisep] gumum" [A good poet is fitting for men] and the same verbal construction in scribal section C comments on the social power of poetry to convey wisdom: "Waera gehwylcum wislicu word gerisad, / gleomen gied ond guman snyttro" [Wise words are fitting for all types of men: a song for a minstrel and wisdom for a man]. Section C also characterizes poetry as a gift from God useful for entertaining others: "Longad ponne py laes pe him con leopa worn, / oppe mid hondum con hearpan gretan; / hafap him his gliwes giefe, pe him god sealde" [When one knows a great number of poems or is able to strike a harp with his hands, he will have less longing; he has the gift of musical entertainment, which God granted to him]. (4) All these sentiments reinforce the authoritative voice of personified Wisdom at the beginning of scribal section A of Exeter Maxims: (5)
   Frige mee frodum wordum. Ne laet pinne ferd onhaelne,
   degol paet pu deopost cunne. Nelle ic pe min dyrne gesecgan,
   gif pu me pinne hygecraeft hylest ond pine heortan gepohtas.
   Gleawe men sceolon gieddum (6) wrixlan. (l-4a)

[Question me with wise words. Do not let the secrets of your mind, that which you know most intimately, be hidden. I will not declare my secret knowledge to you if you conceal from me your mind-craft and the thoughts of your heart. Wise men ought to exchange poems / proverbs. (7)]

Significantly, all these passages stress the value of poets and verse composition, reminding us of the material circumstances responsible for Exeter Maxims's preservation in the middle of a substantial anthology of poetic texts of varying lengths and genres. As its manuscript placement reminds us, the tripartite Exeter Maxims is a significantly different poem than its generic cousin, Cotton Maxims, a shorter gnomic catalog preserved between the metrical calendar known as the Menologium and a copy of the prose Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius B.i. Whereas Exeter Maxims insists on the importance and value of verse for what Emily Thornbury calls a poetic community of "discerning readers and critics" capable of judging poetic quality, (8) Cotton Maxims never refers to poems, poets, or poetic composition. Rather, as Fred C. Robinson demonstrates, its manuscript placement between the Menologium and the Chronicle combines three texts that share a "similar perspective on historical time, each calling attention to the relation between antiquity and the (Anglo-Saxon) present." To some extent, Robinsons claim also holds for Exeter Maxims which is "grouped with Widsith and The Fortunes of Men--two list-poems par excellence" (9) that appear to deal with Germanic antiquity and preconversion rituals and traditions. (10) For all its insights, however, Robinson's study conflates the Cotton and Exeter gnomic poems on generic grounds without acknowledging what follows Exeter Maxims in its most immediate context. (11) As a handful of critics, including Seth Lerer and Rafal Boryslawski, have observed, Exeter Maxims emphasizes the value of verse and precedes a didactic exercise in poetic formalism, namely, The Order of the World, (12) a little-studied poem about poetic creation that is followed by an experimental Rhyming Poem. While Robert Fulk and Christopher M. Cain correctly assert that scribal "book production was not the only determinant of the Anglo-Saxons' predilection for maxims and proverbs," (13) the medieval production of manuscripts remains a primary factor for critics who have not adequately considered Exeter Maxims's relationship to the verse composition immediately following it in the Exeter Book. (14)

This article revisits Exeter Maxims in its manuscript context in order to demonstrate its centrality to the canon of texts inscribed into the Exeter Book and the monastic ideology articulated therein. (15) Reading Exeter Maxims in its manuscript and scribal contexts, I argue, elucidates some overlooked thematic and imagistic connections between it and the Exeter Book poem The Order of the World. When read in sequence in its manuscript context, Exeter Maxims shares several features with The Order of the World, another didactic poem about poetic creation inspired by the themes and imagery of Psalm 18. (16) These features link Exeter Maxims more closely to The Order of the World than Cotton Maxims and lay bare their combined centrality to the sequence of texts recorded in the Exeter Book sometime in the last half of the tenth century. (17) Among these two poems' shared features is the word hygecraeft(ig), a compound associated with memory in didactic Christian poems such as the Old English Metrical Psalms and The Lord's Prayer III that are useful for imparting devotional knowledge to a poetic community that included both monks and secular laypersons. This word combined with other thematic and imagistic repetitions helps us better understand Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World as examples of what I have called a "monastic poetics," an innovative mode of poetry that adapted monastic rhetorical models to cultivate contemplative, visionary experiences in its readers. (18) Drawing heavily on Mary Carruthers's work on the rhetorical utility of medieval ekphrasis, I argued that some Old English poets, such as the authors of Advent Lyric (11) or Vainglory, deliberately crafted verbal-visual ambiguities to stimulate a reader's senses toward meditative glimpses of the divine in a monastic context. This essay's first half focuses on thematic repetitions in Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World to articulate possible reasons for why these poems were juxtaposed in their manuscript context. The essay's second half considers how the term hygecraeft(ig), in tandem with various sun images, contributes to the Exeter Book's thematic development as a whole. Ultimately, I claim Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World thematically bridge the theological mysteries of the Advent Lyrics and the everyday wonders concealed by the Old English riddles, and thus play an important role in the Exeter Book's organization.

As Benjamin Thorpe observed in his 1842 editio princeps of the Exeter Book, reading The Order of the World in its manuscript context on fols. 92v-94r suggests it "is apparently a later attempt at a somewhat similar style of composition" as Exeter Maxims. (19) Both poems have tripartite structures (20) and both are framed by a cryptic exchange in which an anonymous speaker challenges an unidentified interlocutor with imperative commands, such as in the first three lines of Exeter Maxims cited above ("Frige mec frodum wordum ...") and in The Order of the World, where a poet exhorts an eager (fus; 1) man to "Leorna pas lare" [Learn this teaching] (23a) and "Gehyr nu pis herespel ond pinne hyge gefaestna" [Hear now this praise song and fasten it in your mind] (37). To the extent that The Order of the World fleshes out the allusive exchange at the start of Exeter Maxims by demonstrating how "Gleawe men sceolon gieddum wrixlan," the "well-traveled" (felageongne; 3a) narrator of The Order of the World insists poetry should be directed toward the praise of God's creation. Indeed The Order of the World develops an earlier articulation of this theme from verses 4b-13 of Exeter Maxims. The relevant passage from Maxims, which follows the unnamed speakers command that the reader "Ne laet pinne fera onhaelne" [do not let your mind be hidden] (lb), reads:
   God sceal mon aerest hergan
   faegre, faeder useme, forpon pe he us aet frympe geteode
   lif ond laenne willan; he usic wile para leana gemonian.
   Meotud sceal in wuldre, mon sceal on eorpan
   geong ealdian. God us ece bip,
   ne wenda hine wyrda ne hine wiht dreced,
   adl ne yldo aelmihtigne;
   ne gomelad he in gaeste, ac he is gen swa he waes
   peoden gepyldig. He us geponc syled
   missenlicu mod, monge reorde.

[First one must beautifully praise God, our father, because at the beginning of creation he granted us life and transitory pleasure; he will remind us of those rewards. God shall be in the glory of heaven, a person shall live on earth, and the young shall grow old. For us, God is eternal, events neither alter him nor do disease or old age afflict the Almighty in any way; he does not age in his spirit, but he is yet as he always was, a patient prince. He gives us an intellect, diverse minds, and many languages.] (21)

Just a few folios later, a parallel alliterative pairing of peoden / geponc in The Order of the World links that poem to the general sentiment articulated in the passage above, as my italics indicate:
   Nis paet monnes gemet moldhrerendra,
   paet he maege in hrepre his heah geweorc
   furpor aspyrgen ponne him frea sylle
   to ongietanne godes agen bibod;
   ac we sculon poncian peodne maerum
   awa to ealdre, paes pe us se eca cyning
   on gasste wlite forgiefan wille
   paet we eade magon upcund rice
   ford gestigan, gif us on ferde geneah
   ond we willad healdan heofoncyninges bibod.
   Gehyr nu pis herespel ond pinne hyge gefasstna.
   Hwaet, on frympe gescop faeder aelmihtig,
   heah hordes weard, heofon and eordan,
   sass sidne grund, sweotule gesceafte (27-40)

[It is not within the power of man, of those moving on the earth, that he may, in his heart, ascertain his high work any further than what the Lord may give him to perceive with respect to God's own commandment; nevertheless, we must thank the illustrious prince, always and forever, because the eternal king may wish to give us beauty in spirit so that we may easily ascend forth into the heavenly kingdom, if it is enough in our minds and we wish to hold the heavenly king's commandments. Hear now this praise song, and fasten it in your mind. Lo, in the beginning the Almighty father, the high guardian of the hoard, shaped heaven and earth, the wide bottom of the ocean, the clear creation.] (22)

These thematic parallels may partially explain why these two poems were brought together in the Exeter Book by an attentive anthologizer, perhaps even the Exeter Book scribe himself. While we can never know if they were juxtaposed by the scribe as he wrote out the Exeter Book or some other anthologist at an earlier stage of the manuscript's transmission history, Roy Liuzza has argued that the Exeter Book scribe was deliberately arranging and occasionally altering his materials to develop thematically meaningful sequences of poems in the manuscript, raising the strong possibility that Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World were perhaps "edited" by the Exeter Book scribe so as to bind them thematically. (23) Similarly pressing for a more complicated understanding of the distinctions made between scribe, author, and editor in another study of how the Exeter Book scribe reworked and composed verses of Exeter Maxims as he copied the text, I concluded this scribe should, in some sense, be thought of as the "author" of the unique copy of Exeter Maxims. (24) And Emily Thornburys recent reassessment of the roles poets inhabited within the ecclesiastical and court cultures of Anglo-Saxon England productively locates "the work of scribe-poets ... at the thresholds of texts," such as the opening lines of section A of Exeter Maxims. (Elsewhere in her study Thornbury tentatively speculates the Exeter Book scribe "answered" the challenge issued at the start of scribal section A by composing the "two collections of maxims that follow" it--that is, sections B and C of the tripartite Exeter Maxims. (25)) Yet no matter how these two poems came together they share themes and imagery that have drawn little attention from modern readers. The poetic compound hygecraeft, for instance, represents an interesting connection between Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World that may signal the social function of these poems within a monastic context. (26) At the start of scribal section A of Exeter Maxims, hygecraeft denotes the intellectual capabilities of another individual imagined to be an equal of the first-person speaker; "Nelle ic pe min dyrne gesecgan, / gif ]au me Jainne hygecrasft hylest ond June heortan gejaohtas" [I will not declare my secret knowledge to you if you conceal from me your mind-craft and the thoughts of your heart] (2b-3). The The Order of the World's narrator similarly characterizes his interlocutor as hygecraeftig, an adjectival form related to the noun inscribed earlier in the manuscript: "Ic pe lungre sceal / meotudes maegensped maran gesecgan, / ponne pu hygecraeftig in hrepre maege / mode gegripan" [I shall at once say more to you about the abundant power of God than you, crafty-in-thought, may hold with your mind in your heart] (23b-6a). Modern editors of Exeter Maxims follow Bosworth and Tollers definition of hygecraeft as "mental power, intellect, wisdom," (27) whereas T. A. Shippey and S. A. J. Bradley use "strength of mind" and "faculty of reason" (respectively) in their translations. (28) But a more literal translation of the compound hygecraeft as "thought-craft" or the "craft of thought," calls to mind the title of Mary Carruthers's important study of the mnemonic processes of rhetorical composition and invention cultivated in early medieval monasteries and the textual communities that supported them. Her discussion of The Dream of the Rood, along with her careful articulation of the Classical and antique roots of monastic orthopraxis, (29) furnishes a useful entry point into Exeter Maxims, which shows signs of having been produced in a monastic context as both Michael Drout and I have claimed elsewhere. (30) Combining various modes of understanding under a single rubric of "experiences and techniques" to be emulated by a poetic community that relied, in Carruthers's words, "upon patterns of oral formulae and ritualized behavior to prepare for an experience of God, should one be granted," Exeter Maxims inculcates readers in the tools of hygecraeft, the disciplined study of poetry for devotional ends. (31) So too The Order of the World's brief frame-narrative explicitly establishes this didactic poem as an exemplary, albeit challenging, model of verse composition for hygecraeftig poets composing in a devotional context. My lexicographic study of the noun hygecraeft and related forms in their literary contexts below connects this relatively technical term to other religious didactic poems, including the Old English Metrical Psalms and The Lord's Prayer III, where it is associated with memory and the memorization of God's laws. And these poetic contexts, in turn, help us better understand the mnemonic qualities of both Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World and their possible relationships to the biblical Psalms. (32)

Besides Exeter Maxims, the noun hygecraeft occurs five other times in the Old English literary corpus with all instances in verse. There is one occurrence each in Daniel (98) and The Lord's Prayer III, an English paraphrase of the Pater Noster inscribed in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 121, fols. 45v-46r (at fol. 45v), and there are three occurrences in the Paris Psalter. (33) This is, admittedly, a small number, especially given the likelihood that the manuscript record for the word's existence is probably the result of chance survival and the possibility that hygecraeft's coinage was dictated by the alliterative demands of Old English meter. (34) Nevertheless, Thomas A. Bredehoft has plausibly suggested that a literal-formulaic mode of poetic composition may have coexisted alongside a more classical, oral traditional style of verse composition in late Anglo-Saxon England, and thus invites us to consider the possibility that lexical repetitions occurring in different Old English poems may signal an anonymous authors attempt at repeating lexical collocations for thematic purposes. (35) Surveying the contextual uses of hygecraeft in Anglo-Saxon verse and the rhetorical images that accompany them furnishes some insights into the word's semantic range and ultimately sets up further discussion of the related adjectival form hygecraeftig in the Exeter Book.

Hygecraeft and holiness go hand in hand in Daniel, thus introducing the possibility that hygecraeft's use in Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World denotes an exchange between pious individuals who challenge one another to demonstrate their spiritual devotion. The Daniel poet provides a useful counterpoint to the anonymous, lyrical voices of Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World because he employs hygecraeft in a narrative context laced with irony. He recounts how the Babylonian king Nabochodonossor orders a search among the Israelites for "hwilc paere geogode gleawost waere / boca bebodes" [whichever among the young people might be wisest in the books of the law] (81-82a) because
   wolde paet ba cnihtas craeft leornedon,
   paet him snytro on sefan secgan mihte
   nales dy be he paet moste odde gemunan wolde
   paet he para gifena gode pancode
   pe him paer to dugude drihten scyrede. (83-87)

[he desired boys who had learned the craft so that he might say the wisdom that was in his heart to them, and not at all because he desired or was able to remember to thank God for those gifts which the Lord had shared out there to him and his tried warriors.] (36)

Immediately after "God's chosen" ("metode gecorene," 92b) are found, Nabochodonossor commands Annanias, Azarias, and Misael "wordum cydan / higercraeft heane, ]ourh halig mod" [to make known with words the exalted craft of thought through their holy minds] (97b-98, my italics). These lines resemble Exeter Maxims's start, but unlike Exeter Maxims where hygecraeft seems to be shared among equals, the compound's use in Daniel underscores the disparate social status of the Chaldean conqueror and his oppressed subjects. This contrast amplifies the spiritual and intellectual gap between the aefaest (37) youth who are willing and able to thank God through their holy minds (purh halig mod) and se haedena [the heathen one] (94b) whom, the poet explains, explicitly did not thank (pancode) God for his worldly success. Furthermore, the Daniel poet explicitly associates hygecraeft with both memory (gemunan) and praise of God in a didactic context, a correlation developed in both Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World--as well as the Old English Metrical Psalms.

Repetitions of hygecraeft in the Old English Metrical Psalms of the Paris Psalter--a text that undoubtedly "served as a basic entree to literacy" for both ecclesiastic and lay readers (38)--reflects one poet's attempt to impel his poetic community toward the study of Biblical poetry for devotional ends. They may also reflect a broader intellectual tradition of cultivating an active memory through the study of poetry in either a lay or monastic context. (39) In an amplification of the Latin, the poet of Psalm 118 in the Paris Psalter uses hygecraeft to exhort the training of the memory through verse. A disciplined mind, the psalmist explains, escapes the snares of sin by holding God's commandments in his memory just as the three youths in Daniel remember to praise God and, in the process, break their bonds in order to wander free and unharmed within the fiery furnace. (40) Here is the relevant passage from Psalm 118:
   Me fyrenfulra faene rapas
   ungemet geneahhie oft beclyptan;
   mid hygecraefte heolde and laeste. (61) (41)

[Too often the deceitful ropes of the wicked frequently encompass me; yet I was not forgetful; I followed and adhered to your law through the craft of thought.]

And elsewhere in Psalm 118 (fob 144v), the psalmist repeats the phrase mid hygecraefte (and perhaps holde, which echoes heolde) to reiterate an inherent desire, instilled from the moment of creation, to learn God's commandments: (42)

Handa me dine holde geworhton and gehiwedan mid higercraefte; syle me nu andgyt, paet ic eall maege pine blide bebodu beorhte leornian. (73; my emphasis)

[Your hands, through the craft of thought, wrought and shaped me graciously; grant me now understanding so that I may learn all of your joyful, clear commandments.]

Although hygecraeft refers here to God, the psalmist's emphatic use of nu links his present appeal to understand and learn God's commandments in the present with the memory of his creation by God in the past, presumably so the psalmist may continue praising God's creation in the future.

A similar thematic complex in lines 5-7 of Exeter Maxims insists God must be praised through hygecraeft precisely because (forpon) humanity was made by God for the express purpose of recollecting (gemonian) his creation. Repetitions of the first-person plural pronoun "us" (us [5] / usic [6]) in Exeter Maxims also seem to echo the praise of nations inspired mid hygecraefte in the seven-line text of the Paris Psalter's Psalm 116:
   Ealle peode ecne drihten
   mid hygecraefte herigan wordum,
   and hine eall folc on efn aedelne herigan.
   Forpon his mildheortnyss is mycel ofer us
   torhtlice getrymed, til mancynne,
   and sodfaestnys swylce dryhtnes
   wunad ece awa to feore.

[All nations praise the eternal lord with words through the craft of thought, and all people praise his magnificence in equal measure. Therefore his mercy is great over us, splendidly confirmed for mankind, and likewise the righteousness of the Lord remains eternal, always and forever.]

Taken together, these occurrences of hygecraeft from the Paris Psalter raise the possibility that the author of Exeter Maxims drew on the literary and cultural authority of the Old English Metrical Psalms, a text Bredehoft characterizes as "the most authoritative of all surviving Old English poetry." (43) Thornbury makes a similar point about the Metrical Psalms' cultural authority, arguing that they "enabled [...] participation in high culture" and facilitated a new "Southern mode" of poetry that "served to cement the bonds between ecclesiastical and secular power by giving laypeople a functioning equivalent of sacred texts, and by enabling the clergy to demonstrate how church ritual was compatible with a mainly vernacular public discourse" in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. (44) It is impossible, of course, to know whether the author of Exeter Maxims used hygecraeft to allude to the Metrical Psalms or if his poetic community would have been able to recognize the reference if he did. Nevertheless, we may reasonably infer that such an allusion would not have been out of place for readers of Exeter Maxims given its synthesis of ecclesiastical and secular discourses in a manner consistent with Thornbury's notion of a Southern mode. If the Maxims-poet intended an allusion to the Metrical Psalms with hygecraeft--and there is little reason to reject this admittedly speculative possibility outright--then it would almost certainly have enriched his poem's theme. By framing his tripartite composition with an evocative compound repeated in a vernacular version of the preeminent "type" of poetry in the early Middle Ages, (45) the poet could have reinforced Exeter Maxims's emphasis on the value of verse for any audience capable of perceiving the allusion to the Metrical Psalms.

Then again, a monastic author may have composed Exeter Maxims for a textual community that included individuals unfamiliar with the psalms, perhaps with the intent of bringing the ritual experience of monastic thought into a vernacular idiom to instruct laypersons in Christian wisdom, learning, and poetic craft. (46) This second possibility is partially recommended by the final occurrence of hygecraeft in the Old English poetic corpus, specifically in The Lord's Prayer III, inscribed in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 121. Expounding upon the Latin phrase "Sanctificetur nomen tuum," the poet of the Old English prayer petitions Christ:
   paet sy gehalgod, hygecraeftum fest,
   pin nama nu 9a, neriende Crist,
   in urum ferhdlocan, feste gestadelod.

[Now then, savior Christ, let your name be sanctified, fastened by means of the crafts of thought, firmly fixed in our spirit-lockers.] (47)

As in the other passages from Daniel and the Metrical Psalms, this poem links hygecraeft with memory even as its manuscript placement connects that process with the psalms. The association of hygecraeft with this thematic complex across the Old English corpus leads me to speculate, along with E. V. K. Dobbie, (48) that all these texts were produced in a similar intellectual milieu, and, perhaps, for a shared didactic purpose. Yet what can be inferred more specifically about these milieux and their purpose(s)?

The evidence furnished by The Lord's Prayer III seems to point in two directions, one monastic, the other secular. In its manuscript context, the prayer is immediately followed by the final two verses of Psalm 118 in both Latin and Old English, (49) a juxtaposition that articulates a monastic perspective on the importance of hygecraeft for adhering to God's commandments. Pleading with God to "leofad sawul min and oe lustum hered, / and me June domas daedum fultumiao" [Let my soul live on and it will praise you in its pleasures, / your judgments will aid me in my deeds], the translator adapts what Carruthers calls the "common monastic idiom" of remembering the Last Things, allegorizing the psalms reference to the soul and God's judgments as a way of remembering the Day of Judgment "in the present for the future" so as "to create emotion and stir the will." (50) The author also emphasizes memory's role in adhering to God's commandments, rendering the Latin passage "require seruum tuum, domine, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus" [O Lord, seek out your servant because I have not forgotten your commandments] with the slightly more emphatic Old English "la, sec pinne esne elne, drihten, / fordon ic dinra beboda ne forgeat beorhtra aefre" [Lo, seek out your servant vigorously, Lord, because I did not ever forget your clear commandments]. (51) The devotional resonance of the mnemotechnical term hygecraeft in The Lord's Prayer III and the Metrical Psalms may signal a similar ideological concern with the internalization of the psalms as a prerequisite to efficacious prayer in Exeter Maxims. (52)

Indeed hygecraeft's close proximity to the words feeder userne (5) and the contrast between God in wuldre and the human on eorpan (7) in Exeter Maxims could have signaled a memorable invocation of the opening words of the Pater Noster and its petition that God's will be "sicut in caelo, et in terra." (53) The Maxims-poet's use of hygecraeft in a passage that echoes the Lord's Prayer implies Exeter Maxims was composed to inculcate novitiate monks such as child oblates and adult conversi in Christian textuality, a notion supported by lines 45-50a of the poem. These lines, which paraphrase Bishop AEthelwold's Old English translation of the Benedictine Rule, assert that, "Laeran sceal mon geongne monnan" [One is obligated to instruct a young person] (45b) until "hine mon on gewitte alaede" [he be led into understanding] (47b) and "paet he wese pristhycgende" [he becomes resolute in thought] (49b). (54) The foundational importance of the Lord's Prayer for the study of scripture is summarized by one of AEthelwold's students, AElfric of Eynsham, who observes that when Christ taught the Lord's Prayer to his apostles: "he him taehte ealne done wisdom pe on halgum bocum stent" [He taught them all the wisdom that stands in holy books]. (55) Likewise, Solomon schools Saturn in the Pater Noster's power by connecting it to the expansive Christian textual tradition: "hafad se cantic ofer ealle Cristes bee / widmaerost word; he gewritu laered / stefnum stered, ond him stede healded / heofonarices" [The canticle [i.e., the Pater Noster] has the most widely famed words beyond all of Christ's books; it teaches scripture, directs voices, and holds a place for them in the kingdom of heaven] (49-52a). (56) While little indication is given in Maxims as to whether this instruction is textual, a comparison of its opening alongside The Order of the World lets us infer that this instruction was textual in nature and directed toward the goal of shaping prayer for an experience of God.

The Order of the World, like Exeter Maxims, evinces a demonstrable interest in committing poetic texts to memory by recourse to the language and imagery of the psalms, specifically Psalm 18. (57) The adjectival form hygecraeftig in The Order of the World, a poem framed as an extended lesson in poetic craft, calls attention to a person's capacity to commit poetry and theological mysteries to memory. And it does so using textual language that foregrounds the "constructed" nature of memory. Take for instance the skeptical tone of The Order of the World's didactic narrator who acknowledges that his interlocutor is hygecraeftig while simultaneously questioning his ability to internalize and intellectually grasp his impending poetic lesson:
   Ic pe lungre sceal
   meotudes maegensped maran gesecgan,
   ponne pu hygecraeftig in hrepre maege
   mode gegripan. Is sin meaht forswip?
   Nis past monnes gemet moldhrerendra,
   paet he maege in hrepre his heah geweorc
   furpor aspyrgen ponne him frea sylle
   to ongietanne godes agen bibod (23b-30)

[I shall, straightaway, say more to you concerning the abundant-power of the Lord, more than you, crafty-in-thought, may grasp with your mind in your heart. Is your power sufficient? It is not within the power of man, of those moving on the earth, that he may in his heart ascertain his high work any further than what the Lord may give him to perceive with respect to God's own commandment.]

Interrogating the hygercraeftig listener's abilities, the authoritative speaker here insists only God grants individuals the spiritual perception needed to understand his commandments (to ongietanne godes agen bibod). But accepting the speaker's challenge leads us to question the clarity and meaning of his proclamation. While the phrase heah geweorc, "high work" probably means "sublime Creation", the adjective heah may be interpreted less figuratively as an empirical, concrete reference to the sun's position high in the sky. (58) This subtle visual-verbal ambiguity exemplifies my notion of a monastic poetics and may have enriched the mnemonic power of the phrase godes agen bibod in a didactic context. The narrator challenges his hygercraeftig narrator to "grip" his lesson "with (or in) his mind" (mode gegripan) in order to perceive God's commandment (to ongietanne godes agen bibod) in much the same way that the Paris Psalter's psalmist recalls humanity's creation at God's hands (handa) and petitions his hygercraeft for understanding (andgyt) so that he might learn "all of your joyful, clear commandments" (pine blide bebodu beorhte leornian) in Psalm 118.73. And both poems employ an embodied understanding of human psychology resembling the folk beliefs cogently articulated in Leslie Lockett's recent study of Anglo-Saxon psychologies, (59) and thus engage with the psychological process of internalizing God's word for a vernacular audience.

Indeed the tactile language above echoes a passage just a few lines earlier, in which The Order of the World's narrator insists that "scyle ascian, se jre on eine leofad, / deophydig mon, dygelra gesceafta / bewriten in gewitte wordhordes craefts, / faestnian ferdsefan, pencan ford teala" [he who lives in zeal, a deeply thoughtful person, may ask about the secrets of creation and how to inscribe them in his mind, to fasten the craft of the word-hoard in his intellect so that, henceforth, he will think correctly] (17-20). Key here is the poet's insistence that the craft of the word-hoard must be fastened (wordhordes craeft faestnian) as words written into the intellect (bewriten in gewitte), a rhetorical process that results in correct thinking. As the adjective deophydig indicates, (60) this process of mind-craft is also connected to men of faith in a manner that aligns The Order of the World more closely to the monastic exchange of wisdom among equals in Exeter Maxims than the imbalanced power play initiated between Nabochodnossor and his conquered subjects in Daniel. So too The Order of the World's use of sun imagery for didactic purposes parallels the rhetoric of Exeter Maxims. As Seth Lerer shrewdly observes, both Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World, "utilize the idioms of openness and enclosure, binding and loosening, inscribing and reading, and questioning and answering to establish a hermeneutical vocabulary drawn from distinctively artistic and preceptorial contexts. They phrase the act of understanding as the exercise of craft or artifice" analogous to the strategies encoded metaphorically into Exeter Book riddle 42. (61) I agree with Lerer that Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World may be fruitfully compared to the Old English riddles on thematic grounds, though a more fitting context for interpreting hygercraeft's repetition in these poems is furnished by the collocation of the words horse and hygercraeftig and images of sunlight that accompany this alliterative pairing elsewhere in the Exeter Book. (62)

Besides The Order of the World, the adjective hygercraeftig appears only in the Exeter Book's first riddle and in Advent Lyric 8. In these poems the compound is paired with the adjective horse in parallel genitive constructions that effectively bookend a significant portion of the manuscripts contents, specifically folios 11 recto to 101 recto. While it is tempting to embrace without question Elizabeth Tyler's metaphorical comparison of collocations such as horse ond hygercraeftig to individual "beads on a string," such a move is untenable in this context for two reasons. (63) First, Tyler's argument concerns repeated lexical collocations in poems assumed to have been composed by a single author. The repetitions discussed here occur in discrete poems that were probably authored by different persons and/ or compiled from other materials by the anthologist of the Exeter Book or its exemplar(s). Second, we may fairly ask whether an Anglo-Saxon reader would have understood these collocations as meaningful since they appear 90 folios apart in their manuscript context. Nevertheless, Tyler's suggestion that verbal repetitions sometimes foreground certain poetic themes while at other times relegating them to a given poem's "background" is especially useful when combined with Muir's underdeveloped observation about the unifying importance of recurring images that punctuate the Exeter Book's diverse contents. As Muir puts it in his prefatory comments to the Advent Lyrics, "The architectural imagery introduced here reappears sporadically in other texts in the manuscript, and may be considered one of the unifying strands in the anthology (consider especially in this respect The Wanderer, The Seafarer and The Ruin)." (64) Muir also contends on the basis of his codicological and literary analysis of the Exeter Book that it "is clearly an anthology with a purpose and that there is much to be gained from reading it as such". (65) Taking my cue from both Tyler and Muir, I want to consider how verbal repetitions of the compound hygecrcefi(ig), in concert with sun imagery, foreground an interest in experiencing the mysteries of God and his creation, and thus provide an overarching rhetorical structure for much of the anthology's contents.

The first collocation of horse and hygercraeftig in Advent Lyric 8 asserts that no person possesses the ability to discern God's origins or the theological mystery of divine wisdom present at divine creation. Cued by the biblical book of Genesis, the Advent-poet explains that "the author of life divided light from darkness in a noble manner" (Ufes ordfruma, leoht ond pystro / gedaelde dryhtlice) (227-28) before paraphrasing the words of Genesis itself:
   "Nu sie geworden forp a to widan feore
   leoht, lixende gefea, lifgendra gehwam
   pe in cneorissum cende weorden."
   Ond pa sona gelomp, pa hit swa sceolde,
   leoma leohtade leoda maegpum,
   torht mid tunglum, aefter pon tida bigong.
   Sylfa sette paet pu sunu waere
   efeneardigende mid pinne engan frean
   aerpon oht pisses aefre gewurde.
   bu eart seo snyttro pe pas sidan gesceaft
   mid pi waldende worhtes ealle.
   Forpon nis aenig paes horse, ne paes hygercraeftig,
   pe pin fromeyn maege fira bearnum
   sweotule gesepan. (230-43a)

["Now let there be light forever forward, a shining joy for every living thing that may become born in subsequent generations." And immediately it came about, as it was obligated to do, that a radiance illuminated the tribes of men, bright among the stars, through the endless cycle of the seasons. He himself ordained that you be the Son, co-eternal with your own Lord, before any of this ever came about. You are Wisdom who wrought the entirety of this broad creation alongside your ruler. Therefore, there is no person who is sufficiently prudent or crafty-in-thought who can clearly affirm the power of your origins to the sons of men.] (66)

As Burlin observes, this passage "brings together two thematic strands [...] the image of light and the act of Creation" as symbolic "manifestations of divine grace and power" from elsewhere in the Advent Lyric sequence. (67) God's power as creator also provides the foundation for the Old English "storm" riddle, (68) the first line of which contains the rhetorical pairing of the adjectives horse and hygercraeftig:
   Hwylc is haelepa paes horse ond paes hygercraeftig
   paet fiet maege aseegan, hwa mec on sid wraece,
   ponne ic astige strong, stundum refie,
   prymful punie, Jtragum wraece
   fere geond foldan, folcsalo baerne,
   raeced reafige? (1-6a)

[Who among men is so quick-witted and crafty-in-thought that they are able to say who rouses me to a journey, when I ascend strong or at other times severe, full of power I thunder and at times travel with vengeance across the land so I may burn the halls of the people and lay waste to houses?] (69)

Whereas the Advent-poet insists there is no person sufficiently "prudent nor crafty in thought" (nis aenig paes horsc, ne paes hygercraeftig) to explain God's creation, the riddle seems confident that "someone" (hwylc) is sufficiently horse and hygercraeftig to answer the question of "who" (hwa) sent the storm. This shift from a skeptical attitude to one of confidence signals a move away from the necessarily speculative nature of pondering the theological mystery of God's Creation in the past to a more concrete focus on the created, natural world animated by God in the present.

The themes, diction, and imagery of Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World play a pivotal role in developing this thematic transition within the manuscript. Tracking the repeated forms of hygercraeft in the opening verses of Exeter Maxims and riddle 1 lends credence to Lerer's proposition that Exeter MS 3501 "offers a graded sequence of instructive readings". (70) It also reinforces Robert DiNapoli's argument that The Order of the World stands at the "heart of the visionary experience" cultivated by the canon of texts inscribed into the Exeter Book "as the manifesto for a school of poetry, esoteric and visionary." (71) I would add that Exeter Maxims is as significant to the manuscript's thematic development as its companion piece, The Order of the World. (72) The thematic connections shared by these two poems bring into focus a common set of rhetorical tropes that illuminate another aspect of the Exeter Book's monastic poetics whereby word and image are combined to fasten devotional texts within the memory as a prerequisite for experiencing a vision of God.

Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World overlap in their use of sun imagery as a metaphor for spiritual perception in ways that reprise the earlier symbolism of Advent Lyric 8's light imagery. In all three poems, hygercraeft is memorably keyed to visual images of the sun in passages concerned with deep mysteries. Lines 39-44 of Exeter Maxims, for example, explain that:
   Blipe sceal bealoleas heorte. Blind sceal his eagna polian
   --oftigen bip him torhtre gesihpe; ne magon hi tunglu bewitian,
   swegltorht sunnan ne monan; paet him bip sar in his mode, onge
   ponne he hit ana wat, ne wened paet him paes edhwyrft cyme.
   Waldend him paet wite teode; se him maeg wyrpe syllan, haelo of
   heofodgimme, gif he wat heortan claene.

[A joyful person shall be free of evil in his heart. A blind person shall suffer with respect to his eyes--the clarity of his vision is deprived for him; his eyes are unable to observe either the stars or the heavenly-bright sun and moon. It is a pain in his mind when he alone realizes that sting: he does not expect that a recovery will arrive for him. The Ruler appointed that torment for him; God may grant him relief, health for his head's gems, if he perceives a pure heart.] (73)

Whether or not this passage derives from one of the gospels or some other text, (74) critics generally agree the blindness here is spiritual, rather than physical, in nature. Biggs and McEntire, for instance, claim the scriptural allusions in this passage let the poet explore "competing theological claims of divine grace and human action." (75) The passage not only recalls Advent Lyric 8's use of light as a symbol for divine power and spiritual insights but it also anticipates the sun imagery that drives The Order of the World's poetic lesson. The "wis woodora" of The Order of the World (2) represents himself as a skilled reader of the heavens capable of discerning spiritual insights through the celestial movements of the sun. (76) The sun, he explains,
   ond mid aerdaege eastan snowed
   wlitig ond wynsum wera cneorissum;
   lifgendra gehwam leoht ford biered
   bronda beorhtost, ond his brucan mot
   aeghwylc on eorpan, pe him eagna gesihd
   sigora sodcyning syllan wolde (62-67)

[hastens at daybreak from the east, joyous and pleasant to generations of men; to every living thing, the brightest of firebrands bears light forward, and everyone on earth to whom the true-king of victories wished to give eyesight may enjoy it.] (77)

Like Exeter Maxims and the Exeter Book riddles, (78) this passage not only emphasizes Gods ability to impart spiritual vision; it also focuses on the metaphorical importance of the sun's movement across the sky. Implicit too is the notion that this divine gift is available only to fitting recipients, such as the "hosts of angels" (engla preatas) (92b) who continually look upon God in heaven in lines 92-97 of The Order of the World or mortals that are pure of heart in Exeter Maxims (39-44), and are thus capable of internalizing sunlight as a mnemonic device for learning God's commandments.

Closely related to the theme of spiritual vision and blindness are passages concerned with eating. Unlike the sick man who finds no sustenance in the warm rays of sun in section B of Exeter Maxims (111-13), the "eadigra unrim, englas preatas" [blessed multitudes, throngs of angels] (92) in The Order of the World are nourished by the beatific vision of God, a metaphorical feast for the eyes:
   hy geseod symle hyra sylfra cyning,
   eagum on wlitad, habbad aeghwaes genoh;
   nis him wihte won, pam fie wuldres cyning
   geseop in swegle; him is symbel ond dream
   ece unhwylen eadgum to frofre, (93-97)

[They continually see and gaze upon their king with their own eyes; in all ways they have enough. Not a thing is lacking for them: the king of glory is visible to them in heaven; as a comfort for the blessed there will be eternal feasting and everlasting joy.] (79)

This passage exemplifies what hygecraeft imparted to its practitioners: a "vision of God" cultivated by a monastic orthopraxis rooted in the careful study of books, the keys to unlocking the riddles of the natural, physical world. It also reminds us of the complex textual attitudes inscribed into Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and the visceral pleasures and preoccupations of the audiences who consumed and produced Old English poetry in an era when book production was both expensive and time consuming. (80)

Even though I have focused on a couple of lesser-known poems from the Exeter Book, I hope to have demonstrated how studying less canonical texts such as these enriches our understanding of Exeter MS 3501 and its possible social function. Close analysis of Exeter Maxims in its manuscript context reveals a handful of verbal and imagistic connections that link it to the devotional expressions of faith articulated in The Order of the World. My analysis also raises the possibility that these noncanonical texts played a key role in organizing the manuscript's thematic focus for a poetic community that probably included novice monks seeking a glimpse of the divine through careful study of other religiously didactic poems like the Psalms or the Pater Noster. The interplay of words and images recurring throughout the Exeter Book's diverse contents provides us with a rhetorical example of how "monastic poetics" might have been used to train an active memory in the rhetorical work necessary for crafting poems and prayers. It also allows us to better understand the relationship between the anthology's tripartite collections of versified maxims and riddles and their poetic community's inspiration: the theological mysteries of Christ's nativity, ascension, and impending judgment. In this light, the Exeter Book was, will, and continues to be a coherent anthology of exemplary mysteries capable of inducing visionary experiences in its readers.

Indiana University Northwest


I wish to thank Jay P. Gates and PQ's generous readers for their invaluable feedback on this essay.

(1) On the poem's relationship to oral traditional practices, see Paul Cavill, Maxims in Old English Poetry (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999).

(2) Bernard J. Muir, ed., The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry: An Edition of Exeter Dean and Chapter MS 3501, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (Exeter U. Press, 2000), 1.248; my translation. I retain the manuscript reading leofes--which Muir emends to lofes--and adopt the translation of line 139 from Elizabeth Jackson, "From the Seat of the Pyle? A Reading of Maxims I, Lines 138-40," JEGP 99 (2000): 170-92. Also, I assume the three sections of Exeter Maxims form a poetic triptych, and therefore adopt the consecutive line numeration used in The Exeter Book, ed. George Philip Krapp and Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, ASPR 3 (Columbia U. Press, 1936), 156-63. Although Muir restarts the numeration for each section of Exeter Maxims, his edition includes the ASPR's line numbers for ease of cross-reference with relevant scholarship. Muir's section (A) is one line shorter than the first section edited in ASPR, however (Exeter Anthology, 2.557, note to line 54).

(3) Although rune can denote 'runes, letters', I translate it as an abstract feminine noun parallel to the abstract masculine noun reed counsel, advice' (An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, ed. Joseph Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller [Oxford U. Press, 1964], s.v. run, senses III and V, and s.v., raed, sense I, respectively). On the theme of friendship in Exeter Maxims, see Carolyne Larrington, "'Madr er Mannz Gaman': The Theme of Friendship in Old Norse and Old English Wisdom Verse," in Celtic and Germanic Themes in European Literature, ed. Neil Thomas (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1994), 61-76.

(4) Exeter Maxims, lines 127 (with "gerisep" supplied from 125), 165-66, and 169-71, respectively. The word gliwes (171) refers to musical entertainment, implying a performance made for an audience, group, or community.

(5) On Wisdom's personification as a woman in the poem, see my article, "The Proverbs of Solomon and the Wisdom of Women in the Old English Exeter Maxims'," RES 64 (2013): 733-51.

(6) According to the Dictionary of Old English: A to G Online, ed. A. Cameron, A. C. Amos, A. diPaolo Healey et al, (U. of Toronto, 2007 "DOE"--this use of gied denotes "a wise utterance, saying, proverb, maxim; instructive speech, didactic tale, parable", though it means "poem, song" elsewhere in Exeter Maxims (s.v. gydd, senses 5 and 1, respectively).

(7) Muir, ed., Exeter Anthology, 1.248; my translation.

(8) Emily V. Thornbury, Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge U. Press, 2014), 100.

(9) Fred C. Robinson, "Old English Literature in Its Most Immediate Context," in Old English Literature in Context: Ten Essays, ed. John D. Niles (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1980), 11-29 and 157-61 (quotes at 28 and 26, respectively).

(10) For the most recent discussion of Germanic antiquity in Widsith, with references, see Leonard Neidorf, "The Dating of Widsid and the Study of Germanic Antiquity," Neophilologus 97 (2013): 165-83. Karen Swenson, "Death Appropriated in The Fates of Men" SP 88 (1991): 123-39, argues The Fortunes of Men interweaves ideological strands of preconversion and Christian rituals relating to death. Certain speculative aspects of Swensons argument have been recently challenged by Stefan Jurasinksi, "Caring for the Dead in The Fortunes of Men" PQ 86 (2007): 343-63. Despite their use of different titles, Swenson and Jurasinksi study the same poem. Even though her study cites the ASPR edition of the poem inscribed on fols. 87r-88v of the Exeter Book--titled The Fortunes of Men--Swenson does not justify her use of The Fates of Men. Jurasinski works from Muir's edition of the Exeter Book where the same poem is titled The Fortunes of Mortals.

(11) The grammatical structures common to Cotton and Exeter Maxims justify their conflation on formal grounds. Nevertheless, a thorough assessment of each gnomic poem's manuscript context enables us to productively distinguish between them. On the distinct grammar of Old English gnomic verse, see: P. B. Taylor, "Heroic Ritual in the Old English Maxims," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 70 (1969): 387-407; and Marie Nelson, "'Is' and 'Ought' in the Exeter Book Maxims," Southern Folklore Quarterly 45 (1981): 109-21.

(12) Seth Lerer, Literacy and Power in Anglo-Saxon England (U. of Nebraska Press, 1991), 113-15, and Rafal Boryslawski, "Wordhordes craeft: Confusion and the order of the wor(l)d in Old English gnomes," in The Propur Langage of Englische Men, ed. Marcin Krygier and Liliana Sikorska (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2008), 119-31.

(13) Robert D. Fulk and Christopher M. Cain, eds., A History of Old English Literature, with a chapter on saints' legends by Rachel S. Anderson, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003), 242.

(14) I leave aside discussion of Exeter Maxims's relationship to the immediately preceding poem The Fortunes of Mortals since several critics have already explored connections between them. See, for instance: Susan E. Deskis, "The Gnomic Woman in Old English Poetry," PQ 73 (1994): 133-49; Michael D. C. Drout, Flow Tradition Works: A Meme-Based Cultural Poetics of the Anglo-Saxon Tenth Century (Tempe Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006), 264-86; and Brian O'Camb, "The Inscribed Form of Exeter Maxims and the Layout of Quire XI of the Exeter Book," in The Genesis of Books: Studies in the Scribal Culture of Medieval England in Honour of A.N. Doane, ed. Matthew T. Hussey and John D. Niles (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2011), 145-46 and 153.

(15) On the monastic authorship of the unique copy of Exeter Maxims, which was probably composed at a time contemporary with the Exeter Book's production, see Brian O'Camb, "Bishop AEthelwold and the Shaping of the Old English Exeter Maxims," English Studies 90 (2009): 253-73.

(16) Neil D. Isaacs, Structural Principles in Old English Poetry (U. of Tennessee Press, 1968), 71-82, addresses the poem's didactic tone and thematic focus. On the poem's relationship to Psalm 18, see: Bernard F. Huppe, The Web of Words (Albany: SUNY Press, 1970), 34-61; and Ruth Wehlau, "Rumination and Re-Creation: Poetic Instruction in The Order of the World" Florilegium 13 (1994): 65-77.

(17) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.1, claims the manuscript was copied ca. 965-75, while Patrick W. Conner, Anglo-Saxon Exeter: A Tenth-Century Cultural History (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 1993), 76-77, argues for a slightly earlier date between 950 and 970. Where the Exeter Book was produced remains an open question. Conner, Anglo-Saxon Exeter, 27-32 and 94, argues for an Exeter provenance following Exeter cathedral's refoundation in 968. Richard Gameson, "The Origin of the Exeter Book of Old English Poetry," Anglo-Saxon England 25 (1996): 135-85, disputes Conners conclusions and proposes either Glastonbury or Crediton (179) as likely sites for the manuscript's production sometime in the 960s or 970s (166). Robert M. Butler, "Glastonbury and the Early History of the Exeter Book," in Old English Literature in Its Manuscript Context, ed. Joyce Tally Lionarons (West Virginia U. Press, 2004), 173-215, articulates a compelling case for locating the book's genesis at Glastonbury.

(18) Brian O'Camb, "Toward a Monastic Poetics: Envisioning King Edgar's Privilege for New Minster, Winchester and 'Advent Lyric 11" forthcoming in Anglo-Saxon England and the Visual Imagination, ed. by John D. Niles, Stacy S. Klein, and Jonathan Wilcox (Tempe Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies).

(19) Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Codex Exoniensis: A Collection of Anglo-Saxon Poetry from a Manuscript in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of Exeter (London: Society of Antiquaries, 1842), ix. Compare Thorpe's observation that The Order of the World--more accurately titled "On the Wonders of the Creation" in his edition--is "by no means free from obscurities," with William Coneybeare's insistence that The Order of the World "must be referred to the same class with the former; but it possesses a much greater simplicity of subject and merit of execution" than Exeter Maxims (John Josias Conybeare, Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry, ed. William D. Conybeare [London: Harding and Lepard, 1826], 205-6).

(20) Unfilled writing space renders Exeter Maxims's sections visible to the eye, whereas readers of The Order of the World have perceived a dramatic introduction in which the narrator establishes his credentials as a poet (1-37); an inset poem that demonstrates his poetic abilities (38-81); and a concluding exhortation concerning the powers of God (82-102). This tripartite division follows that of Robert DiNapoli, "The Heart of the Visionary Experience: The Order of the World and Its Place in the Old English Canon," English Studies 79 (1998): 97-108. Huppe, Web of Words, 34, similarly divides the poem into three sections made up of lines 1-36 (section one), 37-97 (section two), and 98-102 (section 3).

(21) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.248; my translation. I inserted the phrase "of heaven" to capture the semantic range of wuldre (7a), which can denote "celestial or spiritual glory" (Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, s.v. wuldor, sense 2).

(22) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.259; my translation.

(23) Roy M. Liuzza, "The Old English Christ and Guthlac Texts, Manuscripts, and Critics," RES 41 (1990): 1-11. Muir, too, observes that "Discussions of the [Exeter Book's] anthologist inevitably merge at times with discussions of the scribe, since it is impossible to know to what extent each of them--if indeed they are different people--may have been responsible for determining the layout of the manuscript, the use of sectional divisions, and such related matters as spacing and decorative and capital initials" (Exeter Anthology, 1.17).

(24) O'Camb, "Inscribed Form."

(25) Thornbury, Becoming, 74 and 101, respectively. Also see her discussion of scribe-poets based upon the Exeter Book's scribal riddles, 69-74.

(26) Although hygecmft and hygecraeftig are listed as compound words by modern editors and lexicographers, the scribe writes it as two lexemes in all instances in the Exeter Book.

(27) An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, s.v. hygecraeft. B.C. Williams, Gnomic Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England (Columbia U. Press, 1914), 162, defines the word as "intellect, wisdom" and Carl T. Berkhout, "A Critical Edition of the Old English Gnomic Poems" (PhD diss" U. Notre Dame, 1975), 140, defines it as "wisdom, discernment".

(28) T. A. Shippey, ed. and trans., Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1976), 65; and S. A. J. Bradley, ed. and trans., Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London: J.M. Dent, 1982), 346.

(29) Mary Carruthers, The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200 (Cambridge U. Press, 1998). Carruthers's discusses the "monastic ambience" of The Dream of the Rood on pages 169-71.

(30) On the poem's monastic provenance, see: Drout, How Tradition Works, 271-86; and O'Camb, "Bishop AEthelwold." The Exeter Book's contents and its scribe have been frequently connected to monastic circles; see, for instance: Conner, Anglo-Saxon Exeter; Matthew T. Hussey, "Dunstan, AEthelwold, and Isidorean Exegesis in Old English Glosses: Oxford, Bodleian Library Bodley 319," RES 60 (2009), 681-704; Thomas A. Bredehoft, Authors, Audiences, and Old English Verse (U. of Toronto Press, 2009), 104-45; and Mercedes Salvador, "Architectural Metaphors and Christological Imagery in the Advent Lyrics: Benedictine Propaganda in the Exeter Book?" in Conversion and Colonization in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Catherine E. Karkov and Nicholas Howe (Tempe: ACMRS, 2006), 169-211. I do not wish to suggest, however, that the Exeter Book was written exclusively for a monastic audience. Books by their nature often have multiple readers and audiences that may have included various types of ecclesiasts, such as canons and monks, as well as secular laypersons.

(31) Carruthers, Craft of Thought, 1.

(32) On Exeter Maxims's mnemonic qualities, see R. MacGregor Dawson, "The Structure of the Old English Gnomic Poems," JEGP 61 (1962): 14-22. On the mnemonic utility of the Psalms, which all monks were obligated to learn by heart, see Carruthers, Craft, 67, 112-113, and 182.

(33) This data comes from a search of the electronic Corpus of Old English that accompanies DOE using the search terms hygecraeft and higecraeft.

(34) F. Edmonds, C. Kay, and J. Roberts, eds., The Thesaurus of Old English Online (U. of Glasgow Press, 2005), lists hygecraeft and modcraeft as synonyms for "intelligence" and both snyttrucraeft and hygecraeftig as synonyms for "sagacity"(s.v.v. hygecraeft and snyttrucraeft).

(35) Bredehoft, Authors, Audiences. While Winfried Rudolf raises reasonable objections to Bredehoft's methodology in his book review (JEGP 111 [2012]: 229-31), Bredehoft's thought-provoking work remains of value for its reassessment of authorial intent and intertextual repetitions in Old English verse.

(36) This and all other quotations from Daniel are from George Philip Krapp, ed., The Junius Manuscript, ASPR 1 (Columbia U. Press, 1931), 111-32. The translation is mine.

(37) The three boys are called aefaest, "firm in observing sacred law, pious, devout," in lines 89, 247, and 271 of Daniel (DOE, s.v. ae-faest, sense 1).

(38) George Hardin Brown, "The Dynamics of Literacy in Anglo-Saxon England," Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 77 (1995): 109-42, 124.

(39) On the possible lay provenance of the Paris Psalter, see Thornbury, Becoming, 229, with references.

(40) The Daniel poet specifies that the Babylonian king "ordered [his men] to bind" (gebindan het; 228) the three youths, a detail that makes their walking within the confines of the furnace all the more miraculous.

(41) Old English quotations from the Paris Psalter are from George Philip Krapp, ed., The Paris Psalter and the Meters of Boethius, ASPR 5 (Columbia U. Press, 1932); my translation and emphases. The Latin reads: "funes pecatorum circumplexi sunt me & legem tuam non sum oblitus." Since Krapp does not include the Latin psalms, I have transcribed this and all other Latin quotations from the Paris Psalter from Bertram Colgrave, ed., The Paris Psalter: MS. Bibliotheque Nationale Fonds Latin 8824, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile 8 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1958).

(42) The Latin text of Psalm 118.73 reads: "manus tue domine fecerunt me et plasmaverunt me. da michi intellectum ut discam mandata tua."

(43) Bredehoft, Authors, Audiences, 43. Bredehoft claims the Old English Metrical Psalter was produced sometime during the tenth-century Benedictine Reform and plausibly argues "the reuse or citation of The Metrical Psalms in four separate contexts would seem to suggest that this work was widely known and felt to be authoritative" (43). While I do not wish to press the point, it is possible Exeter Maxims includes another citation from the Metrical Psalms. Muir, Exeter Anthology, 2.557, lists the alliterative doublet getrymed ond getyhted in Psalm 111.7 of the Paris Psalter as an analogue to Exeter Maxims 46a (trymman ond tyhtan).

(44) Thornbury, Becoming, 227 and 225, respectively. On the notion of a "Southern mode," see ibid., 223-38.

(45) Thornbury, Becoming, 24, also observes that the Anglo-Saxons's acceptance of the Book of Psalms as poetry was "not necessarily an inevitable position, given that none of their standard Latin versions were metrical."

(46) I have proposed a mixed audience of monastic individuals and secular aristocrats for the poem elsewhere ("Proverbs of Solomon," 750).

(47) Text from Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, ed., The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, ASPR 6 (Columbia U. Press, 1942), 77; my translation and emphasis. Aspects of my translation need explanation. While I translate faeste in its primary adverbial sense as "firmly", I suspect its use here refers to a quality "of memory to remain permanently" (DOE, s.v. faeste, senses 1 and 1.a.iii.b, respectively). For this reason, I render hygecrceftum as an instrumental dative. For an alternative translation, see Christopher A. Jones, Old English Shorter Poems, Vol. 1, Religious and Didactic, Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 15 (Harvard U. Press, 2012), 78-79.

(48) Dobbie asserts that the vernacular versions of these psalm verses come from a "complete Anglo-Saxon translation of the Psalter, from which [...] all the metrical portions of the Paris Psalter were also taken" (Dobbie, Minor Poems, lxxvii, with additional references).

(49) For a facsimile of the prayer and psalm fragments in their manuscript context, see Fred C. Robinson and E. G. Stanley, eds., Old English Verse Texts from Many Sources: A Comprehensive Collection, EEMF 23 (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1991).

(50) The quotations are from the discussion of the psalms's role in the monastic practice of remembering the future in Carruthers, Craft, 66-69, 68 and 67, respectively. The Latin text of the psalm confirms that the Old English present tense verbs hered and fultimiad express a future tense: "Uiuet anima mea et laudabit te, et iudicia tua adiuuabunt me." The Old English and Latin excerpts of Psalm 118 included in Junius 121 are transcribed from the facsimile edition by Robinson and Stanley.

(51) The addition of aefre for metrical reasons lends a sense of urgency to the Old English paraphrase of the Latin. Thus, I translate elne in an adverbial sense meaning "courageously, vigorously" rather than the weakened sense commonly found in metrical psalters (DOE, s.v. ellen, senses 1.a. and 1.a.i., respectively).

(52) Directions on how to recite the penitential psalms in Cambridge, University Library, Ii. 1.33, fol. 60v, instruct singers to chant them "swa mycel swa du meaht mid inreweardan heortan. na mid efestlican wordan. ac mid gejtencendan mode" [as much as you are able to do so with the inward heart--not with hurried words but with a thinking mind] (N.R. Ker, A Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957], 24).

(53) Wuldre is used in Old English paraphrases of this Latin line in The Lord's Prayer II and III. I should perhaps qualify my assertion that these lines invoke the Pater Noster since the theme of praising Gods creation is found elsewhere in Old English poetry, most obviously in Caedmon's Hymn and Genesis A. It is quite possible that the poet was influenced by these other poetic expressions of praise. Nevertheless, faeder userne in Exeter Maxims more closely parallels the Latin phrase pater noster than do the references to God in Caedmon's Hymn, and a relatively literal translation of The Lord's Prayer was included in the Exeter Book. For these reasons I think an allusion to the Lord's Prayer in Exeter Maxims is more likely than an allusion to Caedmon's Hymn or some other hexameral tradition.

(54) In "Bishop AEthelwold and the Shaping of the Old English Exeter Maxims',' I argued that the vocabulary of lines 45-50a of Exeter Maxim, especially the compound cildgeong (48a), derives from a portion of AEthelwold's Old English translation of the Rule of St. Benedict concerned with monastic oblates. Upon reflection, I may have overstated some aspects of that argument's implications for interpreting the noun cild-geong. As Leslie Lockett points out "significant numbers of men"--including AEthelwold and Dunstan, the chief ecclesiastical leaders of the so-called Benedictine reformation--"also entered the monastery by way of the priesthood, and therefore must have deferred their advanced monastic studies [in Latin texts] until they were nearing middle age, since the canonical age for ordination to the priesthood was thirty" (Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Traditions [U. of Toronto Press, 2011], 366). In light of Lockett's comments, I wish to slightly revise my interpretation of the AEthelwoldian compound cild-geong, as denoting a monastic novice of any age and suggest translating its meaning along the lines of "as young as a child (with respect to learning)."

(55) AElfric's Catholic Homilies: The First Series, ed. Peter Clemoes, EETS s.s. 17 (Oxford U. Press, 1997), 324, lines 6-7.

(56) The Old English Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn, ed. Daniel Anlezark (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2009), 62; my translation.

(57) Three psalters, including one Roman psalter, are reckoned among the inventory of books bequeathed along with the Exeter Book to Exeter Cathedral by bishop Leofric in 1072. While it is impossible to know if these were written in Latin, were glossed in the vernacular, or were translated into Old English verse, the existence of multiple manuscripts of the Psalms alongside the Exeter Book from at least the eleventh century again reminds us of the cultural importance of the psalter to the early English church. For an edition of Leofric's inventory, see Patrick W. Conner, Anglo-Saxon Exeter, 226-34.

(58) An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, s.v. heah.

(59) Lockett, Anglo-Saxon Psychologies, esp. 1-178.

(60) According to the Electronic Corpus of the DOE, deophydig is used of St. Guthlac in Guthlac B (183) and of the righteous souls on Doomsday in Judgment Day I (96a).

(61) Lerer, Literacy and Power, 115. Also see Nicole Guenther Discenza's valuable discussion of craeft in "Power, Skill, and Virtue in the Old English Boethius',' Anglo-Saxon England 26 (1997): 81-108.

(62) I adapt "collocation" from Elizabeth M. Tyler, Old English Poetics: The Aesthetics of the Familiar in Anglo-Saxon England (York: York Medieval Press, 2006), where it denotes "the tendency of words to appear together" in lexical contexts including poetic formulae and in artful passages of verse more generally (38).

(63) Ibid., 132.

(64) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 2.384.

(65) Ibid. 1.25. Muir detects a shared concern "with different models for Christian living" in the first eight poems of the manuscript and a "strong thematic link in the series of poems from Judgment Day I to Homiletic Fragment II, all of which are concerned with aspects of the Easter liturgical season" (ibid., 1.23).

(66) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.53-54; my emphases. In translating this passage, I consulted, and in many cases followed, interpretations in Robert B. Burlin, The Old English Advent: A Typological Commentary (Yale U. Press, 1968), 128-29.

(67) Burlin, OE Advent, 134.

(68) On the importance of God as the "omnipotent force behind" the storm, see Mercedes Salvador-Bello, "Patterns of Compilation in the Anglo-Latin Enigmata and the Evidence of a Source-Collection in Riddles 1-40 of the Exeter Book!' Viator 43 (2012): 339-75 (353-56).

(69) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.285; my emphases and translation.

(70) Lerer, Literacy and Power, 105.

(71) DiNapoli, "Heart of the Visionary Experience," 97.

(72) I would also qualify DiNapoli's argument that The Order of the World is a central text to the Old English poetic tradition. To my mind, Exeter Maxims and The Order of the World stand at the heart of the canon of visionary texts inscribed into the Exeter Book rather than the canon writ large.

(73) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.249; my translation.

(74) Frederick M. Biggs and Sandra McEntire, "Spiritual Blindness in the Old English Maxims I, Part I" N&Q 35 (1988): 11, suggest line 44a (gif he wat heortan claene) derives from Matthew 5.8 (beati mundo corde quoniam ipsi Ileum videbunt). Cavill, Maxims in OE Poetry, 137, proposes the account of Jesus healing a blind man in John 9.1-12, especially verses 3-5 of the chap., as a source for the passage.

(75) Biggs and McEntire, "Spiritual Blindness," 11.

(76) On the meaning of "wodbora," see: Thornbury, Becoming, 25-26; DiNapoli, "Heart of the Visionary," 98; and Ida M. Hollowell, "Scop and Wodbora in Old English Poetry," JEGP 77 (1978): 317-29.

(77) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.260; my translation.

(78) Patrick J. Murphy, Unriddling the Exeter Riddles (Penn State U. Press, 2011), 109-51, considers the textual transformations that monastic textuality wrought on three Exeter Book riddles--specifically riddles 6 (sun), 22 (the constellation known as Charles's Wain), and 29 (sun and moon)--that take the movement of celestial bodies as their metaphorical focus.

(79) Muir, Exeter Anthology, 1.261; my translation.

(80) A similar point about the importance and meaning of texts is posited in Ananya Jahanara Kabir, "Anglo-Saxon Textual Attitudes," in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, Volume 11: The Middle Ages, ed. Alastair Minnis and Ian Johnson (Cambridge U. Press, 2013), 310-23.
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Author:O'Camb, Brian
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Sep 22, 2014
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